Anyone who has witnessed a loved one battle Alzheimer’s disease or another memory-loss disease knows that the experience involves more than the loss of one’s memory. It can feel like losing that loved one altogether. That can of course create an incredibly painful burden for an entire family.
Like so many issues and concerns that society must acknowledge, I think a major part of coping with the disease is through families sharing their stories, to know that they are not alone and that there is a support structure behind them. For example, over the past 18 years the Ohio Alzheimer’s Association has hosted an event called “Memory Day” at the Statehouse, which brings people together to express the need for greater advocacy, research and resources so that we can both confront the issue head-on and help families who are going through a tough time.
The day not only focuses on the roughly 210,000 Ohioans with Alzheimer’s disease, but also on the more than 594,000 individuals throughout Ohio who sacrifice each day to care for them and help them meet their needs. As it can be a challenging and emotional responsibility, it is important that we always bear in mind those who give of themselves to help someone in need and reach out in our own way to help.
I read a newspaper quote not long ago from an Ohio man who is taking care of his parents, both of whom are suffering from Alzheimer’s. He said, “Alzheimer’s does so many things that take away the person before they actually leave us.” When you consider that, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 5 million Americans are battling the disease, it makes you think of all the families that are affected by that very reality.
I would like to thank all of the caregivers, both locally and around the state, who work hard each day and give of their own lives to make the lives of those around them better. I certainly saw a great example of the care and support from those who participated in Memory Day this week at the Statehouse.
Cliff Rosenberger is the Ohio House Speaker.